like an Aldermans Grace to a Scholar’s Commons, thinking their Pigmy Products look as Naked without these Ornaments,their Pigmy Products look as Naked without these Ornaments: that is, their little books would not seem complete without the addition of a preface. Humphrey Crouch had joked that a book without a preface was “(as our Modern Wits say) Like a House without a Porch” in England’s Jests Refin’d and Improv’d (1693). as a Puritan without his Band,Band: a neck band or falling collar, a pair of cloth strips hanging down in front, commonly worn by judges and lawyers, the clergy, academics, the military, and so on. or a Whore without her Patches.Patches: beauty spots, small pieces of decorative black fabric worn on the face, neck, or shoulders to call attention to beautiful features, and to hide skin blemishes. They stereotypically characterized prostitutes’ features, the implication being that they were used to hide syphilitic sores.
For my part I only use this Preamble as a Sow Gelder does his Horn,Sow Gelder: one who makes his living spaying or castrating animals. The sow gelder would announce his presence to potential customers by blowing a horn. Ward plays on the image of this downgraded herald to introduce simultaneously his graphic humour and his purported aim: to excise the wrongdoings of his fellow Londoners. that as by Hearing of the latter, you may give a shrewd guess at his Business; so by Reading of the former, you may rightly understand my Design, which I assure you in the first place, is not to Affront or Expose any Body; for all that I propose is, to Scourge Vice and Villany, without leveling Characters at any Person in particular. But if any unhappy Sinner, thro’ the Guilt of his own Conscience, shall prove himself such an Ass, to take that BurthenBurthen: burden. upon his own Shoulders, which Hundreds in the Town have as much Right to bear as himself, he has no Reason to be Angry with me, but may thank himself, or his Destiny, for making his tender Back so fit for the Pack-Saddle.THE
The Introduction, shewing the Design. A Tavern Barkeeper and Drawers Describ’d. The Spy entertain’d at Dinner by some Town-Sharpers. A Character of the Company. A Description of a Coffee-House. The Character of a Vertuosa. Observations on Mens growing Rich by Burying their Wives; with Reflections on some Apothecaries. The Character of a certain Bookseller. Of the East-India Company. A Story of a Person of Quality, who Courted a Poor Woman. A Poet’s Song against Musick. A Musician’s against Poetry. A Copy of Verses to a Lady, with her Answer. The Madmans Flight.
AFTER a tedious Confinement to a Country Hutt, where I dwelt like DiogenesDiogenes: a Cynic philosopher who rejected luxury and purportedly lived in a tub, which he rolled from place to place. Diogenes favoured reason above convention and political power, and for this he was often labelled mad. The comparison to Diogenes could be read as favourable—or not: in A Tritical Essay Upon the Faculties of the Mind (1707), Swift wrote: “And although Diogenes lived in a tub, there might be, for aught I know, as much pride under his rags as in the finespun garment of the divine Plato.” in his Tub, or an Owl in a Hollow-Tree,An Owl in a Hollow-Tree: a self-deprecating joke. The Athenian owl, bird of Pallas Athene, or Minerva, represents knowledge and wisdom. In London iconography, it was a symbol of Augustan ideals (see Strype’s map of London and Westminster, 1720). The owl is later adopted and inverted by the Scriblerians (est. 1713) to ironically represent false wisdom, dullness and stupidity. taking as much delight in my Books, as an AlchymistAlchymist: by the end of the 17th century alchemy had fallen into disrepute and the use here implies false learning and fraudulent charlatans concerned with the transmutation of base metals into gold and the so-called Philosopher’s Stone. According to John Harris in Lexicon Technicum (1708), alchemists “amuse the Ignorant and Unthinking with hard Words and Non-sense ... [Alchymy is] an Art without an Art, which begins with Lying, is continued with Toil and Labour, and at last ends in Beggary.” does in Bellows;Bellows: alchemists used a bellows to regulate the amount of air available to (and thus the temperature of) their furnaces in the process of distillation. till tired with Seven Years search after Knowledge, I began to reckon with my self for my Time; and examine what a SolomonSolomon: the Biblical King Solomon was renowned for exceeding all men in wisdom and knowledge. my diligent Enquiry into the uncertain Guesses of our Fore-Fathers had made me; but soon fell upon the Opinion of Socrates, and found my self as much the Wiser, as if, like the LoobyLooby: a lazy, dull fellow. Achilles, I had spent my Hours at a Distaff. This was no little Vexation to a Man of my Genius, to find my Brains loaded to no purpose, with as many Antiquated Tringum TrangumsTringum Trangum: a trinket; “a Whim, or Maggot,” according to The New Dictionary of the ... Canting Crew (1699) as are lodg’d in the Whimsical Noddle of an Old Astrologer,Astrologer: By the end of the 17th century, astrologers—like alchemists—represented false learning: according to Harris, astrology is “a ridiculous Piece of Foolery”; it is “an Art which pretends to foretell future things from the Motion of the Heavenly Bodies, and their Aspects to one another; and also from some Imaginary Qualities, which the foolish Admirers of this Cheat will have to be in the Stars, as the Causes of great Sublunary Effects; though they have no tolerable Grounds to prove that there are any such things” (Harris, 1708). and yet couldmake